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Bridge to Terabithia (2007)


Explore the growth of a friendship between two children as they discover themselves in a land of magic and mystery.


Rating: PG—includes bullying and mildly offensive language.
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel, Robert               Patrick
Age group: All ages


Brief Synopsis

Ten-year-old Jess Aarons (played by Josh Hutcherson) is a poor country boy who wants to be the fastest runner in his class and practices all summer to win. On the day of the race, however, he finishes second. The person who beats him is Leslie (played by AnnaSophia Robb), the new girl in the class. Jess avoids Leslie's attempts to befriend him at first, but gradually accepts her friendship and shares his secret love of drawing with her. Together with Leslie's vivid imagination, the two friends create a land of mystery and magic. Jess and Leslie rule as king and queen in their land, called Terabithia, and discover a whole new world of friendship. But when tragedy strikes, will this magical world come tumbling down?


Review

Bridge to Terabithia is a film based on the 1987 Katherine Paterson novel of the same name. Although the fantasy parts of the film are breath taking, the real charm of the movie lies in its strong portrayal of human feelings. Jess Aarons is the only male child and has four female siblings. His family has to work hard to make ends meet and Jess often has to make do with his sisters' hand me down clothes, which brings him a lot of ridicule at school. All Jess wants is to be the fastest runner in his class. But, he is left in his tracks by the new girl, Leslie, who wins the 'boys only' race.

Although Jess does not like Leslie initially, he is fascinated by her vivid imagination. Gradually, after he begins talking to her, and showing her his secret drawing book, he even meets her parents, who are both wealthy writers. Their encouragement to their daughter to use her imagination is unlike the situation at home, where Jess' father is always shouting at him and telling him to get his head out of the clouds. Despite their diverse upbringing, the two of them share a strong friendship that causes them to create an imaginary kingdom in the woods behind their homes. Each one brings something special to this land. Jess indulges his drawing talents while Leslie creates stories with her imagination.

The two of them spend long hours in their make-believe world, rescuing their subjects and fighting their imaginary foes. Slowly, this transforms their behaviour at school, especially Jess, who learns not to worry about the taunts of his schoolmates. Each one also gets a chance to experience how the other person lives. When a tragic event occurs, the fantasy world is rocked initially but the magic is somehow saved and continues to live on.

This movie is an excellent example of how strong a friendship can be. The way the two main characters use their imagination is especially relevant in today's fast-paced, imagination starved world of gadgets like TV, videogames, and Ipods. Children are so busy watching mindless TV shows that they are deprived of the simple pleasures of exploring the world around them. The relationship that Jess and Leslie share is one of innocent friendship, with no sexual connotations attached. Robert Patrick, who plays Jess' father, does an excellent job as the parent who cannot understand his child and wants him to be something he's not.

The movie stays true to the book from which it has been adapted. Parents can discuss different aspects of the movie with their children. For example, what makes Jess and Leslie such good friends in spite of their diverse background? Why is an imaginary place like Terabithia important to them? Overall, Bridge to Terabithia is not just a visually appealing film, but also, it is one of the best films that can be watched by the entire family.


What do you think of children having imaginary playmates? Do you encourage your children to dream? To share your views, click here.

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